A lapidary (lapidarist, Latin: lapidarius) is an artist or artisan who forms stone, minerals, or gemstones into decorative items such as cabochons, engraved gems, including cameos, and faceted designs.
The primary techniques employed are cutting, grinding, and polishing.Carving is an important, but specialised technique.
Hardstone carving is the term used in art history for objects produced by the specialised carving techniques, and the techniques themselves.
Diamond cutters are generally not referred to as lapidaries, due to the specialized techniques which are required to work diamond. In modern contexts "gemcutter" typically refers to people who specialize in cutting diamonds, but in older historical contexts it refers to artists producing engraved gems such as jade carvings and the like.
By extension the term "lapidary" has sometimes been applied to collectors of and dealer in gems, or to anyone who is knowledgeable in precious stones
The etymological roots of "lapidary" is in the Latin word lapis which means stone. The term evolved from lapidarius meaning "stonecutter" or "working with stone", into Old French lapidaire, thereon to mean "one skilled in working with precious stones" in 14th century.
In French and later English, the term also means a treatise on precious stones that describes appearance, formation and properties particularly in terms of "powers of stones" as believed in medieval Europe.
These powers included the belief in the ability of stones to prevent harm, heal ailments or offer health benefits. The word appeared as an English adjective in the 18th century.
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